Where did the money for Obama Gardens go?

posted at 12:15 pm on September 25, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The Illinois Attorney General has opened an investigation into the money granted in a Barack Obama earmark in 2001 to the spouse of a campaign aide, thanks to the investigative work of the Chicago Sun-Times.  When Obama challenged Bobby Rush for his seat in Congress, he tried to drum up support from the Englewood neighborhood by earmarking state money to establish a botanical garden.  Despite promises that Obama would remain engaged in raising more than a million dollars, Obama lost interest after losing the election and never fulfilled his pledge for action.   Now it looks like the state funds went no farther than Obama’s aide:

A $100,000 state grant for a botanic garden in Englewood that then-state Sen. Barack Obama awarded in 2001 to a group headed by a onetime campaign volunteer is now under investigation by the Illinois attorney general amid new questions, prompted by Chicago Sun-Times reports, about whether the money might have been misspent.

The garden was never built. And now state records obtained by the Sun-Times show $65,000 of the grant money went to the wife of Kenny B. Smith, the Obama 2000 congressional campaign volunteer who heads the Chicago Better Housing Association, which was in charge of the project for the blighted South Side neighborhood.

Smith wrote another $20,000 in grant-related checks to K.D. Contractors, a construction company that his wife, Karen D. Smith, created five months after work on the garden was supposed to have begun, records show. K.D. is no longer in business.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan — a Democrat who is supporting Obama’s presidential bid — is investigating “whether this charitable organization properly used its charitable assets, including the state funds it received,” Cara Smith, Madigan’s deputy chief of staff, said Wednesday.

Eighty-five percent of the funds wound up going no farther than the pockets of Obama’s campaign volunteer.  Chris Fusco and Dave McKinney track down the contractor who supposedly got most of this funding to find out what happened.  He told the Sun-Times reporters that he only was asked to cut down a few trees and to grade the surface of the park, which would have been overpriced at $3,000.  So what happened to the other $82,000?  No one knows, and the Smiths don’t have any explanation.

Smith had connections to Obama for at least four years prior to getting the money from Obama’s earmark:

The relationship between Smith and Obama dates to at least 1997, when Obama wrote a letter that Smith used to help the housing association win city funding for an affordable-housing development near the garden site. Plans called for more than 50 homes; a dozen ultimately were built.

Let’s look at that closely.  Obama assisted Smith in getting city funds for 50 units of affordable housing in or near Englewood.  Despite getting the funding, Smith built less than a quarter of the units he promised.  Based on that track record, Obama earmarked another $100,000 in taxpayer funds for Smith, who once again failed to deliver on a project.

Even if Obama didn’t deliberately participate in an attempt to pay off a volunteer with taxpayer money, what kind of judgment is that?  And what does it say about Obama that after promising to “work tirelessly” on this project, Obama didn’t even bother to notice that only about $3,000 worth of work got accomplished from a $100,000 grant?

Too bad the national media has sent dozens of reporters to Wasilla to investigate Sarah Palin and so far have come up with the hugely scandalous tanning bed that Palin bought for herself, using her own money.  Perhaps they could have spared one or two to investigate the Democratic nominee at the top of their ticket and found more than just a little sunshine to blow up the electorate’s rear end.


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Comments

The money went to Todd Palin’s business partner. I call on the media to investigate.

econavenger on September 25, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Hopefully, as more stuff comes out, it will eventually force the media to actually do some real reporting.

As to whether it’ll do any good or not…I doubt it. The fix is in. “Bugs” Obama, the Democratic Party and the media are going to make sure of that.

Matt Helm on September 25, 2008 at 12:19 PM

I know these posts don’t generate as many comments as the newer, more sensational stuff, but they’re important and thanks for posting all of them Ed.

We all know what a shady, machine politician Obama is. It would be nice if the rest of America could find out. Hopefully a few eyes are opened every time you write one of these posts.

BadgerHawk on September 25, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Tanning bed paid for by her own money vs $100,000 of OUR money wasted…. which is worse… I can’t decide

originalpechanga on September 25, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Perhaps they could have spared one or two to investigate the Democratic nominee at the top of their ticket and found more than just a little sunshine to blow up the electorate’s rear end.

But it is so much harder to get to Chicago than Wasilla! ;-0

highhopes on September 25, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Attorney General Lisa Madigan — a Democrat who is supporting Obama’s presidential bid — is investigating “whether this charitable organization properly used its charitable assets, including the state funds it received,” Cara Smith, Madigan’s deputy chief of staff, said Wednesday.

That’s all I need to know. The investigation will go nowhere. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on September 25, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Did the balance go to Michelle’s kids?

HornetSting on September 25, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Where did the money go, you ask?

A. Into the Chicago Democratic political machine.

Nothing new here.

Thanks for the hard work Ed.

Mcguyver on September 25, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Are you insinuating that there is corruption in Illinois, especially in Chicago? Who would have guessed?

/sarc

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on September 25, 2008 at 12:22 PM

We need to send the MSM a Southwest Fun Fare Ticket…to Chicago.

HornetSting on September 25, 2008 at 12:22 PM

I hope whoever reported this story has good life insurance for their family.

TheHat on September 25, 2008 at 12:23 PM

Dems are allowed to be corrupt liars. Duh!

stonemeister on September 25, 2008 at 12:24 PM

How could this happen? Chicago Democratic politics are supposed to be so pure and ethical!

amerpundit on September 25, 2008 at 12:24 PM

Perhaps they could have spared one or two to investigate the Democratic nominee at the top of their ticket

Ed, if you said this on the MSM, the response would be: Oh, I see, let’s investigate the shady black man from Chicago. How dare you, you racist pig!

m064404 on September 25, 2008 at 12:25 PM

Perhaps they could have spared one or two to investigate the Democratic nominee at the top of their ticket

Obviously, this qualities Obama for the top executive position in the world. He will work tirelessly to reduce spending and revamp the federal bureaucracy – just like he promised at Barakopolis during the dems convention.

/sarc

Right_of_Attila on September 25, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Investigating this does not help Michelle’s kids.

Y-not on September 25, 2008 at 12:26 PM

This is already a non-issue, Ed.

You missed the money ‘graf in the story, just as your boss did:

Madigan’s office has notified Obama’s presidential campaign of the probe, which was launched this week. But Obama’s actions in awarding the money are not a focus of the investigation, Smith said.

Crooks cover up for crooks. SOS.

MrScribbler on September 25, 2008 at 12:27 PM

How much money did Kenny B. & Karen D. Smith kick back to Obama donate to Obama’s campaigns after they got these

looted funds

earmarks?

rbj on September 25, 2008 at 12:27 PM

The booty went to pay for all those
newly minted Obama coins!

or,Obama’s Temple,the Pillars of Hope!!haha.

canopfor on September 25, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Attorney General Lisa Madigan — a Democrat who is supporting Obama’s presidential bid — is investigating

The end.

tru2tx on September 25, 2008 at 12:28 PM

PIMF

looted funds earmarks.

PIMF
PIMF
PIMF

rbj on September 25, 2008 at 12:28 PM

It’s hard to understand the principle of money management when you really never work with your own hard earned funds.

Has anyone checked his freezer?

Hening on September 25, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Attorney General Lisa Madigan — a Democrat who is supporting Obama’s presidential bid — is investigating

Well that just tucks me in and makes me feel real cozy…

right2bright on September 25, 2008 at 12:28 PM

BadgerHawk on September 25, 2008 at 12:20 PM

I second the thanks to Ed for his tireless work in bringing this information to a wider audience.

Gilda on September 25, 2008 at 12:29 PM

I’m sorry but this another Racist article. Obama is Black, I’m pretty sure the wife of Kenny B. Smith is black. The Englewood neighborhood is black, if you add it up black+black+black=Racist.

cmptrnerd on September 25, 2008 at 12:30 PM

With day after day of Obako’s shady associations coming to light, why do so many people still believe he is a viable candidate?

$100,000 disappears and no one in the whore media gives a flying shiite. This unwillingness to take a close look at Ocriminal is a travesty.

Bishop on September 25, 2008 at 12:32 PM

Once Mac un-suspends his campaign, he needs to connect the dots. Even before Obama became a US Senator (and started collecting huge contributions from Fan and Fred) he was taking money from people that he steered fat contracts to.

“Culture of Corruption” indeed.

The Monster on September 25, 2008 at 12:32 PM

You know, I have to say, if I were Obama and I was going to participate in this type of money funneling, I would at least put in an earmark for the study of some bug in Africa and direct the money to my brother making twelve bucks a year….

CC

CapedConservative on September 25, 2008 at 12:33 PM

Keep moving -nothing to see here.

Fuquay Steve on September 25, 2008 at 12:33 PM

Follow the money…it will lead to Wasilla. Wasilla is the center of money laundry, scurrilous rumors, hidden campaign money, tanning beds, fired officers, banned Harry Potter books, and more…check the voter registration you’ll find more…you can bet that money ended up in Wasilla, the garden to no where…

right2bright on September 25, 2008 at 12:34 PM

Obama is a crook and a liar.

I also question his patriotism and his professed faith.

Other than that I’m cool with him.

EnglishMike on September 25, 2008 at 12:34 PM

This is an important investigation which shouldn’t be allowed to disappear. Some have suggested that Obama wasn’t campaigning to win this election, but was planning for the future, which is why he seems so unprepared this time. This investigation can help inform the American public as to the past of Obama…and how he isn’t deserving of the Presidency in this election,next election, any election. In fact, if his past DOES catch up to him…he may asked to step down from Congress, and you know how low that bar is set. Just ask William Jefferson or Barney Frank in the House, Harry Reid in the Senate.

Doug on September 25, 2008 at 12:36 PM

This post is yet another straw that is being laid on the camel’s back. Hopefully the last straw will come before Nov. 3.

HawaiiLwyr on September 25, 2008 at 12:36 PM

This won’t go anywhere. The MSM won’t pick it up and the sheepel will vote for Obumbo the sleezy Chicago machine.

Mercy4Me on September 25, 2008 at 12:36 PM

I guess THE MANCHILD found this above his pay grade. Sort of like everything he needs to attend to is above his pay grade. The media apparently thinks investigating THE LORD MESSIAH is also above their pay grade. Everywhere you turn there is another story just like this one. This is beyond frustrating that only the internet is exposing the truth.

freeus on September 25, 2008 at 12:37 PM

BadgerHawk on September 25, 2008 at 12:20 PM
I second the thanks to Ed for his tireless work in bringing this information to a wider audience.

Gilda on September 25, 2008 at 12:29 PM

Yes, amen to that. I have learned so much from visiting Hotair than I ever did by watching the news and reading mags. I’ve been a long time stalker to the site and was thrilled when the opportunity to log in was made available.

Ed and Allah’s hard work is very much appreciated by this commenter and reader!!

tru2tx on September 25, 2008 at 12:37 PM

Eighty-five percent of the funds wound up going no farther than the pockets of Obama’s campaign volunteer.

Hey, I’ve got an idea!

Let’s have politicians determine how to handle the current financial crisis and then give them oversight to make sure the $700 billion in funding is not misappropriated.

My pet rock says,

We can trust them.

fogw on September 25, 2008 at 12:37 PM

100 grand is a lot for a park, but the 160 million for CAC is the true elephant in the room.

JimK on September 25, 2008 at 12:39 PM

I think Pelosi and Barney Frank need to have
investigations immediately,into Baracks missing
loot,

and,has anybody looked to see if its next to the
ice cubes and frozen waffles in Jefferson’s freezer!!!
haha.

canopfor on September 25, 2008 at 12:41 PM

You know, I have to say, if I were Obama and I was going to participate in this type of money funneling, I would at least put in an earmark for the study of some bug in Africa and direct the money to my brother making twelve bucks a year….

CC

CapedConservative on September 25, 2008 at 12:33 PM

“I uh, I uh, I ah uh, well, I think we uh, need to give more money to the uh, the uh, the government, so uh, so it can uh, distribute it to those in need!” – O

*eats*

Grue in the Attic on September 25, 2008 at 12:41 PM

It’s aaahright…
It’s Okay…
Obama like de Chicago way…

It’s aaahright…
It’s Okay…
It gonna be like TI$A say

Dis is real…
An’ not fo play…
I’ma vo’ Obama way…

“We Hood, We Vo’in’, an We Th’owin’ it uuuuuuppp”…

Another fine exmple of TEH JUDGEMENT !

But, I guess it’s just another chapter in the Story of O!

RocketmanBob on September 25, 2008 at 12:42 PM

And what does it say about Obama that after promising to “work tirelessly” on this project, Obama didn’t even bother to notice that only about $3,000 worth of work got accomplished from a $100,000 grant?

$100 thousand is peanuts in “pay to play” land — it was beneath Obama’s dignity to notice who stole it. He had much bigger figures in mind. (Such as promising $2 billion of US taxpayer funds for global education today — in the midst of a financial crisis.)

Nichevo on September 25, 2008 at 12:43 PM

Obama spokesman Michael Ortiz said Wednesday the senator’s staff in Washington will monitor the Madigan probe and an additional review under way by Gov. Blagojevich’s administration

Stop it! You’re killing me!

DrSteve on September 25, 2008 at 12:44 PM

Hopefully, as more stuff comes out, it will eventually force the media to actually do some real reporting.

They will. I heard they’re reshuffling their crack investigative reporters to begin work early on the morning of November 5th.

BacaDog on September 25, 2008 at 12:44 PM

And if McCain showed up, the little trolls would say “It is more important to be on a late night talk show then solve this terrible problem”.
He took the high road, McCain knows this has to be resolved by CONGRESS before opening bell on Monday.
Anything else is secondary right now…that is why he is a leader and Obama is the follower.

Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big.
Theodore Roosevelt

And finally, probably my favorite of all quotes…pertains to Obama as he sits back and takes pot shots while McCain wants to get in the ring and do something.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Yes, Teddy also honored those who fall short, but pick themselves up and continue to strive to do their best…that is McCain.

right2bright on September 25, 2008 at 12:44 PM

It’s possible that some of the money went back to Barack Obama himself.

According to Open Secrets, there was one Karen Smith of Winnetka, Illinois (read, Chicago) that donated $1,000 to Barack Obama’s campaign on March 28, 2007.

Now, there is no way for me to know if this is the SAME Karen Smith from the article, so take it for what you will.

Abby Adams on September 25, 2008 at 12:46 PM

Too bad the national media has sent dozens of reporters to Wasilla to investigate Sarah Palin and so far have come up with the hugely scandalous tanning bed that Palin bought for herself, using her own money. Perhaps they could have spared one or two to investigate the Democratic nominee at the top of their ticket and found more than just a little sunshine to blow up the electorate’s rear end.

Ed Morrissey

That says it all Ed, thank you, great post !!

Maxx on September 25, 2008 at 12:46 PM

I think Pelosi and Barney Frank Fwank need to have
investigations immediately,into Baracks missing
loot,

and,has anybody looked to see if its next to the
ice cubes and frozen waffles in Jefferson’s William Jefferson’s, Democrat Louisiana, freezer!!!
haha.

canopfor on September 25, 2008 at 12:41 PM

fixed…

CC

CapedConservative on September 25, 2008 at 12:48 PM

“And what does it say about Obama that after promising to “work tirelessly” on this project”…..obama and promise should never be used in the same sentence! In fact I wouldn’t want to be standing next to him when he said the words “I promise”.

christene on September 25, 2008 at 12:48 PM

Sarah Palin took the money and financed a vast conspiracy to:

1. Chlorophorm the Trooper
2. Put the Tazer into the Trooper’s hands to transfer his finger prints onto the weapon.
3. Hired a thug to raise the Trooper’s hand with the Tazer in it to Taze her sleeping nephew’s scrotum

marklmail on September 25, 2008 at 12:49 PM

second the thanks to Ed for his tireless work in bringing this information to a wider audience.

Gilda on September 25, 2008

I also appreciate Ed’s work to bring forth this information, even if I don’t think much of his pontificating. He deserves kudos for the former.

SKYFOX on September 25, 2008 at 12:49 PM

Perhaps we could start a website or a viral email listing all of these controversies, but say they are Palin’s problems. Just to pique some media interest.
Then, when a reporter gets going on the story, we could let him know it’s really Obama at the center of it.

MayBee on September 25, 2008 at 12:54 PM

“An aide managed those funds.”
“I’ve never met Karen Smith.”
“That’s not the Kenny Smith I knew.”
“Do you think McCain and Bush would be interested in this if Kenny Smith was white?”

eeyore on September 25, 2008 at 12:58 PM

MayBee on September 25, 2008 at 12:54 PM

You read my mind.

The Monster on September 25, 2008 at 12:58 PM

With this sort of experience, Obama would be far better suited working for the UN.

capitalist piglet on September 25, 2008 at 12:58 PM

My strong suspicion is that there are many other examples of this hiding in the $160 million of Annenberg and matching funds spent under Obama’s and Ayers’ watchful leadership.

Too bad every investigative reporter in America is still waiting on the spectrometer results from Palin’s expense reports.

DrSteve on September 25, 2008 at 1:00 PM

Wow, this is ALL over the major news networks!

/sarc

cntrlfrk on September 25, 2008 at 1:00 PM

$63,000 for $500 == 0.8% (obama’s percentage from the garden)
$7,000,000 for $30,000 == 0.4% (obama’s percentage from Freddie Mac)

He’s getting cheaper.

unclesmrgol on September 25, 2008 at 1:03 PM

It’s Bushes fault! It’s Bushes fault – after all he was alive back then.

Fuquay Steve on September 25, 2008 at 1:05 PM

I want some coverage of the $1million earmark to his wife’s hospital and the $3Million sought for a client of Biden’s son’s lobbying firm. Instead we get to hear interviews with Palin’s hairdresser.

ROMDOC on September 25, 2008 at 1:06 PM

In the Garden of Englewood
Don’t you know why no flowers grow?
Inna-gadda-davenge-wuh
Don’t you know where the money goes?

The Monster on September 25, 2008 at 1:11 PM

I feel so distracted from the real issues by this.

Also also, I had no idea that organizing a community was so expensive.

TexasDan on September 25, 2008 at 1:11 PM

O.K., so we all agree that the MSM isn’t going to go anywhere near the slimey trails that follow Obama; But surely, surely, surely, there must be investigative journalists (Stanley Kurtz can’t do it all) that are anxious to make a name for themselves! Where are the FOX journalists? Or are they all just talking heads? I mean, not every journalist works for the MSM- this is ridiculous that Obama is being shoved down our throats just because the media wants him to be!

anniekc on September 25, 2008 at 1:12 PM

Where has all the money gone…long time missing
Sounds like a song for Rush buddy Shanklin…
The answer my friends is Obama’s win…

right2bright on September 25, 2008 at 1:13 PM

anniekc on September 25, 2008 at 1:12 PM

I agree, who ever really breaks this story down will have the Pulitzer prize…it just has to be the person who breaks rank and has the leverage to be heard.

right2bright on September 25, 2008 at 1:14 PM

Well, I sent the link to Special Report, let’s see what they do with it.

DrSteve on September 25, 2008 at 1:20 PM

Too bad the national media has sent dozens of reporters to Wasilla to investigate Sarah Palin and so far have come up with the hugely scandalous tanning bed that Palin bought for herself, using her own money. Perhaps they could have spared one or two to investigate the Democratic nominee at the top of their ticket and found more than just a little sunshine to blow up the electorate’s rear end.

The press knows better than to show up in the southside of Chicago.

Queen0fCups on September 25, 2008 at 1:28 PM

The press knows better than to show up in the southside of Chicago

Getting killed by a polar bear (per SNL NYT skit) would be the least of their worries.

The Monster on September 25, 2008 at 1:30 PM

It’s the fox investigating the case of the missing hens!

Paul K. on September 25, 2008 at 1:40 PM

Hmmmm….methinks perhaps some smart Chicago pols are seeing the possibility of a humiliating loss by Barack Obama…would be fairly easy for Ms. Madigan to knock him off in a Senate primary in 2010….she’s more popular than he is and actually has a record of getting stuff done for Illinois….she has also been yelling about bad subprime mortgage lending for a few years now and got a tough bill passed to crack down on it…

rockmom on September 25, 2008 at 1:43 PM

rockmom, the Donilon comment on the other thread was awesome.

DrSteve on September 25, 2008 at 1:47 PM

Tammany Hall didn’t die with “Boss” Tweed…it just moved west…where is a Nast today? We could sure use one. With those ears, Obama’d be ripe for a good cartoon….

…lemme see…an “urban” politician claiming to be a champion of “low income” people, involved in a scam involving “low income housing”, turning out to be a shyster, a grasping grafter and a traitor to people with his complexion…hmmmmmmmmmmmm…where have I heard this one before?

…code words…code words…when you hear the words “low income” anything, but particularly with “housing” appended to it, grab your wallet and hold on tight!

Puritan1648 on September 25, 2008 at 1:52 PM

Think this is the “unpleasantness” for Obama Rich Lowry was talking about? I really hope its alot bigger than this.

All this shows so far is that Obama is an idiot when it comes to picking his acquaintances, which is not really news.

Chuck Schick on September 25, 2008 at 2:02 PM

Somehow I doubt if this will get as much attention as troopergate.

Let’s call it gardengate.

Terrye on September 25, 2008 at 2:05 PM

Attorney General Lisa Madigan — a Democrat who is supporting Obama’s presidential bid — is investigating “whether this charitable organization properly used its charitable assets, including the state funds it received,” Cara Smith, Madigan’s deputy chief of staff, said Wednesday.

Uh oh another fox guarding the henhouse.

Marines for Mccain on September 25, 2008 at 2:10 PM

This investigation will not feed a single hungry chile…

bill30097 on September 25, 2008 at 2:22 PM

Funny thing, I just saw a story on this on CBS news last night. No wait… I was dreaming. This will NEVER make the mainstream news outlets.

cannonball on September 25, 2008 at 2:44 PM

Even if Obama didn’t deliberately participate in an attempt to pay off a volunteer with taxpayer money, what kind of judgment is that? And what does it say about Obama that after promising to “work tirelessly” on this project, Obama didn’t even bother to notice that only about $3,000 worth of work got accomplished from a $100,000 grant?

In fairness, $3,000 is like change when you consider the total of $100,000. I suspect this would be Barry’s defense – another example of Change We Can Believe In. Seriously though, I suspect it will boil down to another “Not the man I knew…” type of thing.

RightWinged on September 25, 2008 at 2:51 PM

Just asking questions:

Perhaps. . .perhaps the money for Obama Gardens went toward a lake house in Winnetka?

Just asking questions.

Jason Coleman on September 25, 2008 at 3:54 PM

Interesting to note that the lib trolls haven’t jumped into this thread in a big way.

They must still be waiting for a talking points memo that blames the missing money on Bush, Cheney, Rove, or the Palin’s bear rug. I know for sure the tanning bed didn’t take it.

Yoop on September 25, 2008 at 4:57 PM

Note to Ed-
If you want to pump up the hits on these sort of threads and get more comments, you need to find a way to blame it on Christians, and especially creationists. That’s a sure fire winner here.

TBinSTL on September 25, 2008 at 5:45 PM